Subsea Communications Cables as Critical Infrastructure: What’s in a Designation?

Hybrid Event (New York and Online)
5 March 2024
Subsea Communications Cables as Critical Infrastructure: What’s in a Designation?

The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) hosted its second multi-stakeholder dialogue on subsea communications cables, co-organized with the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations and the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC).

Subsea telecommunications cables are an essential element of the information and communications technology ecosystem, transmitting practically all our inter-continental communications and data. Their security and resilience are critical to the well-being and functioning of societies across the globe, and to international security and stability. While technological innovation is enabling faster and more widespread connectivity, the global network of subsea cables is increasingly perceived to be at risk from the behaviours and actions of both State and non-State actors.

In April 2023, UNIDIR organized a first multi-stakeholder dialogue on subsea telecommunications cables during which it launched a report entitled Wading Murky Waters: Subsea Communications Cables and Responsible State Behaviour”, which identified, amongst other, linkages between such infrastructure and the framework of responsible State behaviour agreed at the UN. In line with the essence of some of the agreed norms and CBMs, UNIDIR’sSecurity and Technology Programme has since launched a follow-on research project to further unpack what it means in policy and practice to designate or consider subsea cables as critical infrastructure, and the essential role of public-private collaboration in contributing to their security and resilience. The dialogue, which aims to capture emerging practices across States and regions, will contribute to the research project and the resulting report which will be launched in Geneva in June 2024.   


A recording of this event is available on our YouTube channel, and below.


Welcome Remarks: 

  • Ambassador Fergal Mythen, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations


  • Dr. Camino Kavanagh, Visiting Senior Fellow, Dept of War Studies, King’s College London
  • Dr. Towela Nyirenda-Jere, Head of Infrastructure, Digitalisation and Energy, African Union Development Agency
  • Mr. Kent Bressie, Law Adviser, International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC)
  • Ms. Elina Noor, Senior Fellow, Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


  • Mr. David Bruck, Director, International Security Policy, Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland


Tuesday 5 March 2024, 13:15 – 14:30 EDT.

Hybrid format: Conference Room 7, United Nations Headquarters, New York and online.


We welcomed delegations, cyber experts as well as members of the multistakeholder community including industry, civil society, and intergovernmental organizations.

Please kindly note that UNIDIR is not able to grant access to the United Nations Headquarters for those who are not already in possession of the UN accreditation.


For any questions, please contact the UNIDIR Security and Technology Programme (